I’ll start here: I’m in a book group. In addition to enjoying books, we all also enjoy cooking. So when we gather each month, the food we prepare and enjoy makes our group as much a dinner group as it is a book group.
We’re a bit of an odd group, partly because we’re co-ed (and wouldn’t have it any other way), but our routine is just like any other book group rotating from house to house each month. With the exception of Hillbilly Elegy, we read only fiction, and mostly new fiction. In December we read a short story instead of a full-length book (because, holidays…).
Because we’re an odd group, what works for us, food-wise, on our book group nights might not work for anyone else. But if you are in a book group (or club), co-ed or not, and your group is as dedicated to food as to reading, then maybe this will help if you’re on the schedule to host in the next few weeks. Even if you’re not in a book group, one of these ideas might be just the thing to get you motivated to have a few friends over one winter night.
And, for the record, “The Stew” really is good, particularly when made with some strong, fresh ginger (if ginger is appealing to you). Whether you make it exactly as the recipe specifies or modify here and there to make it your own (I added lime and doubled the stock), it’s a hearty comfort on a cold night..
- Love to Cook: The Stew (if you’re on Instagram and follow Alison Roman, #thestew), a simple butter lettuce salad (the secret to it is salt), homemade naan, and dark chocolate bark with pistachios. If chickpeas and spice aren’t your thing, opt instead for Jane Grigson’s celery soup (double or triple the recipe). NOTE: If you don’t have access to NYT Cooking, here’s a review of the stew that includes the recipe, and here’s a recipe for naan.
- Weeknight Reality: A simpler chickpea stew with rice, or perhaps a kale and white bean stew (less than 30 minutes to prepare) with butter lettuce salad, store-bought pita, and a bag of dark chocolate candies for dessert.
- Need a Miracle: Find the best mushroom soup the store has to offer, doctor it with chicken stock and heavy cream, and top with lots of chopped fresh parsley. (Tomato soup, doctored with heavy cream and topped with yogurt and fresh dill would also work.) Serve with toasted sourdough bread (straight from the store bakery), and a gelato assortment (with a bag of Pepperidge Farm Bordeaux cookies, perhaps?)
Curious about the books my book group has enjoyed recently? Here are a few we really liked:
- Nothing to See Here, by Kevin Wilson
- Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, by Olga Tokarczuk
- Mrs. Caliban, Rachel Ingalls
- An American Marriage, Tayari Jones
- Leaving Atocha Station, Ben Lerner